Merry Christmas to everyone out there in RPG-land. I hope your Christmas (or whatever flavor of holiday you celebrate) went well, is going well, or will go well. We had a good time here at the Hungry household with The Kid landing tons of great toys and too many Legos.
The week was a good one in the RPG blogosphere as well, so here are the links!
Troy makes some great points in his article about how to really amp up the lore and legend of a critter before (or if) it’s even encountered. I’ve done this before, and had GMs do it to me as a player. I fondly remember stopping at an abandoned village that had a covered (nearly sealed) well that had something thumping inside the well. We discovered near-ruined texts that alluded to the horror found within the well. My character was recovering from a disease at the time, so we spent close to two weeks at the village. The rest of the part hiked to and from the nearest stream for fresh water rather than risk what was in the well. We never did discover what was thumping away beneath the wooden cover. I have a feeling it was for the best.
Mike has pinged me right where I tickle the most: math applied to RPGs. I love breaking out the graphing calculator (or Perl) during game design and checking the probabilities involved in the dice rolling, target number(s), number of successes needed, etc. I get all sorts of jolly and energized by crunching those numbers. However, I’d rather leave the calculator (and Perl) “at home” when playing a game because it’s rarely fun to sit down and do 3 minutes of math to figure out the result of a 10-second die roll. There’s a certain tipping point between the excitement of “did I do it right?” and the boredom of “can we just hand wave the rule and math and say I failed?”, and I think that the fulcrum lies somewhere in the 30-45 second mark once the dice stop tumbling. Thanks for the great post, Mike. Good stuff.
I disagree with the Great Gygax on this point (see the quote at the top of the post.) Campaigns can certainly have meaning with and without time keeping. That’s about all I have to say on that matter. Jeff does a great job of breaking down his thoughts on the subject.
Great Dwarven order in this map!
Great Dwarven chaos in this map!
Peter has an excellent post packed full of advice for someone like me. Thanks to the highly successful Bones Kickstarter that Reaper Miniatures did, I now have hundreds of unpainted minis. Add these to the dozens of metal ones I’ve purchased over the years, and I’m probably sitting around 400 minis that need paint to be applied. *sigh* Yeah. It’s that bad. I don’t need to paint them, but I do enjoy it as a sort of meditative process. The only problem I have is that it takes me right at an hour to paint one mini. I just don’t have 400 hours to dedicate to painting. It’s such a daunting process, that I balk at starting. Perhaps Peter will get me off my arse, and into gear on the painting of the minis.
I feel that in the RPG industry, we’ve lost the touch of beautiful descriptions. They tend to boil down to the mechanical, near ritualized, application of text to a mental image without evoking any emotion. I’m guilty of it in my own bestiary for my as-yet-to-be-published game. Perhaps I need to take a step back and apply my fiction writing muscles to the task of throwing down some evocative descriptions of the critters. Thanks for the post!